Who Are You and Why Should I Care

Ok . . . so, who are you and why should I care? Those are the two universal questions that affect everything from getting a date, to writing a resume, to buying a pizza.

It makes little difference whether you are asking the high school dream queen to the prom or trying to talk Mr. and Mrs. Money Bags into letting you build their new addition. These are the basic questions he or she is looking to answer. Be honest, every time you meet someone new, aren’t you either consciously or subconsciously asking these same two questions, “Who are ya?” and, “Why should I care?” We all do it, everyday; we just may not realize we’re doing it.

It boils down to an issue of trust. Most of us only buy products and services from those we trust, and part of that trust is built on the assurance that they’re capable of delivering the goods and their associated benefits.

So . . . here’s a tip: Convert your professional credentials and achievements into benefits. Prospects could care less that you are a “top notch carpenter.” That designation only speaks to your ability to squarely hit a nail and saw a straight line. However, they do care that you may have helped other clients “just like them” with a particular product or service. The unspoken answer to “Who are you…?” may be as simple as including a credibility statement like, “CGR,” or “22 years serving the community” or “NAHB Member Since 1947” in your ads and promotional material. Clearly, buyers tend to look for an example of your credibility before they make the decision to buy from you, or engage your services.

We may not readily admit it, or even realize it, but we all expect to gain a benefit from any kind of relationship with someone else, why else would we care? But do your homework. Target prospects for your product or service who can realize a benefit, or you are wasting their time and money, as well as yours.

Another tip: Promote the biggest single benefit you have to offer your target market. You, and you alone, control whether or not they’re the right prospects by targeting your marketing efforts at those most likely to have a need or desire for the benefits you are offering. Once a prospect needs, or perceives a need, for your product or service, it’s easy to capture their attention.

Keep these two questions in mind when you promote your contracting business and I personally guarantee your success ratio will increase by magnitudes.

It is a Question of Leadership

While I was eating breakfast this morning, as most mornings, I was watching the talking heads spew forth their rhetoric about the state of the nation and the state of the 2008 Presidential election. All of them, no matter how well they try to hide it, have a dog in the fight just as all of us, but in particular I was amused by the characterizations and name calling by the candidates surrogates. What fools! This lead me to remember an article I wrote almost 8 years ago for a local magazine in the Washington DC area on the heels of September 11th. As we are a nation once again on the brink of financial catastrophe and still engaged in a military conflict which just yesterday, Easter Sunday, claimed its 4000th young life, I’d like to share it with you today, especially the last sentence.

It’s a Question of Leadership

I know without reserve, everyone who reads these words shares my feelings, in whatever measure they personally experienced the events of September 11th. I know there are new questions seeking precious few answers. And, I know we are again a nation with our underbelly exposed to perils from both within and without. So I thought in this month’s column I would offer some hard-won advice to those of you who lead others in the daily pursuit of business.

It would be difficult for anyone who actually knows me to not know my stance on leadership: One manages things and events. One leads people.

As a parent who delivered one of his sons to the Marine Corp one recent Monday afternoon, and will deliver his other son to the Army in just six short months, and as someone who has more than a little experience living and dealing with cultural differences, I have been profoundly changed. I’ve found myself asking some pretty tough questions and not finding easy answers.

So, what has leadership to do with marketing? Answer: Absolutely everything! The events of the last weeks have struck at the heart and soul of America. While we need managers to get things done, we need leaders to ask the right questions and spark those to be lead into appropriate action. Those of us who find ourselves in leadership positions are being faced with new challenges, not the least of which is how to counsel those we lead when they are confronted with actions and reactions to recent events by clients and customers.

The following bullet points are not necessarily my own by the way, but Psychologists Judy Booker and David Ruxer, who know about these things, have shared some of their wisdom in my preparation. To them, I offer my gratitude.

  • Realize those with whom you are dealing are under stress
  • It’s OK to be upset and have mixed feelings
  • Watch your words and take care to stop strong rhetoric
  • Assume every interaction is with someone who has been directly affected
  • Listen very carefully; don’t rush to judgment
  • Give everyone a little extra room, both physically and emotionally
  • Don’t take another’s anger and other feelings personally
  • Decisions will be more difficult to make, so limit options
  • Maintain as normal contact with customers and clients as possible

To my readers I would also suggest:

  • If you lead, then lead well; if you follow, then follow well
  • Be careful what you wish for, you may get it
  • Be very, very careful about the liberties you give away

The Funnel

The Contractor’s Monthly Marketing Check-Up

Without a steady stream of solid, qualified leads a contractor is dead.

How long does it take to know where you stand, where’s your next job coming from, how will you meet payroll? Not as long as one might think. No, you don’t have to call your accountant for the answer either. Just take a minute or two and ask yourself 14 questions, to which you will probably know the answers without difficulty.

How many new leads for the month?
From where did those leads come?
How many sales calls for the month?
How many successful closes for the month?

The Funnel
How many jobs waiting for contracts?
Worth how many dollars?
How many jobs scheduled?
Worth how many dollars?
How many jobs in production?
Worth how many dollars?

How many jobs end in 30 days?
How many jobs end in 60 days?
How many jobs end in 90 days?
How many jobs end in 120 days?

Pretty simple, huh? . . . Schedule it!